In the 1920’s a experiment was created in an attempt to reduce many things such as social problems, crime and corruption, reducing the tax burden created from jails, and to improve overall health and hygiene of the people in America.
In 1919 the government issued the 18th amendment which was inforced into law in 1920 as the “National Prohibition Act”. Prohibition was the ban of selling, brewing, drinking, and possession of alcohol. The overall experiment only lasted 13 years. Many people didn’t follow the law, even Franklin D. Roosevelt drank martinis often while the law was in place.
In the end the result of prohibition was overall just a disaster. The consumption rate of alcohol at the beginning did fall dramatically, but shortly after it dramatically increased. According to Mark (1991) “Alcohol became more dangerous to consume; crime increased and became “organized”; the court and prison systems were stretched to the breaking point; and corruption of public officials was rampant. No measurable gains were made in productivity or reduced absenteeism” (Mark Thornton, 1991, para. 3). Prohibition had removed a great portion of tax revenue and it greatly increased government spending.
It also led a lot of drinkers to switch to worse drugs like marijuana, opium, cocaine, and even abusing prescription medicines. Alcohol was also still used as a prescription medicine even though there was a law prohibiting it. Prohibition left a lot of damage done to the American people.
It killed more than 10,000 people from the toxic “Bootleg” alcohol being made, it even caused people to have paralysis and even go blind. D. J.
Hanson said “Frustrated that people continued to consume so much alcohol even after it was banned, federal officials had decided to try a different kind of enforcement. They ordered the poisoning of industrial alcohols that were regularly stolen by bootleggers and resold as drinkable spirits. The idea was to scare people into giving up illicit drinking. Instead, by the time Prohibition ended in 1933, the federal poisoning program, by some estimates, had killed at least 10,000 people” (D. J. Hanson, N.D, para. 20).
It led to more and more people not respecting the laws and creating more crime that way. In 2 years in New York there were more than 7,000 arrest made due to this. Prohibition created a massive decrease in jobs in America. “The closing of breweries, distilleries and saloons obviously led to the loss of an enormous number of jobs. There was also loss of jobs among truckers, barrel makers, glass workers, hospitality workers and many others. These were personally painful effects of Prohibition” (D. J. Hanson, N.
D, para. 23). Prohibition also created a great tax loss. The federal government lost 11 billion in tax revenue and spent over 300 million just to enforce it. The U.
S Government and some states were practically forced to rely on income tax alone. Prohibition ended up causing a lot of hypocrisy in the U.S government.
D. J. Hanson says “Congress had its own bootleggers. The best-known was ‘the man in the green hat. There were many reports of cocktails in the halls of Congress between sessions. Sessions discussing Prohibition and its enforcement! The Speaker of the House of Representatives had an illegal still” (D. J. Hanson, N.
D, para. 27). Many people in the U.
S Government still would drink constantly. The director of Prohibition enforcement in Pennsylvania managed to take 700,000 gallons of alcohol from their storage. The director also operated a slush fund of 4 million dollars to bribe the Prohibition agents with. Prohibition led to things like overburden on the criminal justice system, glorification of gangsters, and popularization of the KKK. D. J.
Hanson Stated “The prison population of Sing sing prison jumped 45% in the first three years of Prohibition. The public often admired them. Many people idolized John Dillinger, Bonnie and Clyde, Al Capone, Baby Face Nelson and Pretty Boy Floyd. The KKK reemerged in Georgia in 1915 to defend the state’s prohibition law” (D. J.
Hanson, N.D, para. 35). The United States Government was unable to regulate the flow of alcohol being brought in and being used.
According to Lisa Dorr “By 1930, the failures of Prohibition were hard to miss. Despite an effort of nearly a decade, the federal government had been unable to stem liquor traffic, and indeed found itself in the midst of increasing complaints about corruption, crime, casual disregard for the law, and diminishing support for Prohibition itself.” (Lisa Lindquist Dorr, Dec 4, 2015, para. 5). It increased everything the intended to decrease and even added worse things like how tainted alcohol killed at least 10,000 people, or how ironically it increased drinking. Normally before prohibition men liked to drop by the closest bar after work to have a couple beers before heading home. D.
J. Hanson said “things changed when alcohol was illegal. ‘People did not take the trouble to go to a speakeasy, present the password, and pay high prices for very poor quality alcohol simply to have a beer. People went to speakeasies to become intoxicated.” (D. J. Hanson, N.D, para.
41). Abusive drinking wasn’t a issue until after this took place. We now still can see today that there is a abusive alcohol problem.
Not many states cared for the law enough to actually enforce it. Lisa Dorr says “Several states refused to pass state-level prohibition laws, which meant that their law enforcement personnel had no authority to enforce federal prohibition laws. Other states passed Prohibition laws but refused to allocate state funds to enforce them, again tying the hands of state forces.” (Lisa Lindquist Dorr, Dec 4, 2015, para. 4). Many of the law enforcers didn’t care that much about it because they still drank too so they turned a blind eye to their activities.
The end result of the “Noble Experiment” Was a unexpected disaster that ended up making them repeal the amendment. Lisa Dorr stated “Repealing the Prohibition amendment in December 1933 ended bootlegging and the free-for-all that was so profitable for the bootleggers, and brought back a legal trade in alcohol controlled through government regulation. The timing was no accident. Tax revenues from the sale of booze helped support government programs during the Great Depression, making the song “Happy Days Are Here Again” doubly appropriate.” (Lisa Lindquist Dorr, Dec 4 ,2015, para. 6).
Prohibition law gives us a perfect example on what not to do in their situation. D. J. Hanson states “The Noble Experiment of Prohibition serves as an excellent example of a public policy based on hopes and desires. Not on logic and common sense. We should test the effectiveness of every existing and proposed policy. And for the absence of unintended consequences.” (D.
J. Hanson, N.D, para. 42). Prohibition was originally created in an attempt to reduce many things such as crime and corruption, social problems, reducing the tax burden created from jails, and to improve overall health and hygiene of the people in America. Prohibition was the ban of selling, brewing, drinking, and possession of alcohol.
The National Prohibition act was a “Noble experiment” to see if it could potentially reduce these issues. The U.S failed miserably in their attempt and only made things worse than they were before and wasted more money than was intended.